Since joining the Charlotte Bobcats in 2011, point guard Kemba Walker has been just about everything the team could want: a scoring machine, a facilitator and a defensive stud. The one thing he hasn’t been, though, is a vocal leader out on the court.
Unfortunately for Bobcats head coach Mike Dunlap, that’s exactly what he wants out of Walker.
“You’d like a Peyton Manning disposition in huddles,” Dunlap said of his point guard position. “Kemba has a quiet disposition, so pulling that jacket on can be kind of difficult. It’s not his nature, but it needs to be his nature.”
Especially considering their pitiful 2011-12 performance and ugly first half of the 2012-13 season, the Bobcats are in desperate need of a leader out on the court. With a handful of talented-yet-raw, young players and a few seasoned veterans in the lineup, Walker needs to be the glue that holds the team together as the franchise attempts to dig itself out of this shallow grave. He can’t do that, though, until he acquires the “voice” that Dunlap expects from his point guard.
“He’s right. That’s always been my problem – my voice,” Walker said. “I’m not the loud type. When I actually was on the championship team, guys were much younger than me. It’s hard when you’re surrounded by older guys. You don’t know if they will let you [lead].”
All throughout high school and college, Walker displayed the same type of quiet approach to playing that he has since joining the Bobcats. Despite being a star at every level of his basketball career, he has sported the “talk with your actions” type of leadership that simply isn’t cutting it for Dunlap and Co.
The one thing that continues to lean in the Bobcats’ favor: Walker’s soft demeanor led him a state title in high school and a national championship at UConn. If he can keep that type of success going at the NBA level – albeit, it’ll have to happen a ways down the road – the Bobcats should just let him do his thing.
Walker may not be the abrasive, outspoken leader that many NBA point guards are, but his track record proves that it has worked for him. The Bobcats would be best to just enjoy his subtle leadership.